January, 2011

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A spreadsheet and some walls

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

We got the first walls up today. Man, were these things heavy!

I also wrote a little spreadsheet this week to calculate the heights of studs on a sloped roof wall. We experienced this math problem on the last house — say you have a wall that’s 12 feet long and it’s 95″ tall at one end and 100″ tall at the other (to provide for a low slope roof). What are the stud lengths at 4″, 12″, 24″, etc. all the way down the wall? Now we have a nifty little calculator that lets you plug in the wall length, the high and low measurements, and stud positions. Then it cranks out the length for each one.

Say, is there an app for that?

Phase 2 begins

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The lines on the new slab are cut and ground. We’re trying out some new designs in a few central places, which I will do something interesting with color on down the road.

Today we started framing walls. Won’t be long now until it looks like something is happening.

I’m calling this phase 2 now…mostly because I don’t think of it as a “second house.”

Checkers, anyone?

Monday, January 17th, 2011


Now for the hard work of grinding out all the edges to be smooth!

Wide open spaces: ocean and grasslands

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

The other day someone asked us if we missed the ocean, given how long we lived there.

Brad and I looked at each other — neither of us miss the ocean much, but Brad was first to answer no. (I miss the idea of the beach, but the truth is that I really don’t miss it that much.)

Brad said that the land out here is  kind of like the ocean. The waves in the tall grass here are indeed reminiscent of the waves on the ocean. There is a sense of peace to be gained in watching both.  Someone else commented that, like the ocean, there is also a sea of life beneath the surface of our grasslands. It’s true. This winter whenever we’ve walked outside, flocks of birds have risen from their hiding places in the grass. We know that other animals lurk there too though we seldom see them.

The thing here that reminds me most of the beach is the wide open spaces. When we lived on the beach, we had an infinite view to the west. Here we have an infinite view 360 degrees around us. There are no buildings anywhere to interrupt the horizon. Only a few sporadic low trees and then views all the way to the mountains.

One of the most surprising things about this is how aware we have become of the sun and the moon and how they move throughout the year. Every morning the sun wakes us up and we watch how the timing of shadows and the angle of the light changes with the seasons. While in the summer, the afternoon sun comes in sharply from the west, now in the winter, the afternoon sun is predominantly from the south. (This confirms our decisions about the orientation of the main house and how the clerestory windows should catch the winter sun to warm the adobe wall while not getting the hot summer sun. It is one thing to plan for this based on your intellectual understanding of how the sun moves, but quite another to actually witness it.)

While the sun sets over the canyon due west in the summer, it sets to the south toward Douglas in the winter. The difference in the location in just a few months is startling. It is something I never really noticed living surrounded by other houses and buildings.

Last night, the bright moonlight coming in our window seemed like car headlights shining in. Like the sun, the time and place the moon rises and sets changes dramatically during the month.

Similarly with weather, we see storms coming in from the west or the south and can visually track their progress. There are times when we can see it raining across the highway to the east while it is still bone dry where we are.

The wide open spaces, combined with spending so much time outside, make me feel more rooted to the land, and that makes me feel content. So, no, I really don’t miss the ocean at all.

(House update: It finally got a little warmer late this week. I finished filling the cracks in the slab, and we started scoring the  concrete, which we should finish this week.  We also got a lovely drill press off Craig’s List, which Brad has been looking for for some time.  He now has “an app for that.”)

Who goes there?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

An owl landed on our water tower this evening. For those of you who have an idea of how big our water tower is, this picture gives you an idea of how big the owl is. Bigger than the bobcat as Brad pointed out.


It’s been pretty cold here this week (in the teens at night and 60+ during the day but cold when it’s windy). I’ve been working on filling cracks in the new slab this week so we can cut it, which needs to be done before framing.

Other than that, we’ve been busy with the paying job…making ebooks, doing a social media project (can you imagine? someone paying me to tweet and facebook), and building an online course (which I’ll be teaching in a couple weeks).